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Household perspectives on the health and educational outcomes of childhood obesity using linked electronic health records

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  • Full or part time
    Prof C Dezateux
    Dr G Harper
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a PhD using linked electronic health records to gain novel insights into childhood obesity using complex statistical methods. The student will be based in the Institute of Population Health Sciences at Queen Mary University of London and will be a member of the child obesity research group which is part of the Clinical Effectiveness Group.

Childhood obesity is a major public health problem with an increasing proportion of children nationally leaving primary school obese or overweight in the UK. Information is lacking on the prevalence of long-term conditions and the health-related behaviours of the adult household members of primary school aged children identified as being overweight or obese. Household level and intergenerational models have been identified as an important gap in understanding of adult multimorbidity (1) however evidence is lacking on how this clusters within households and across generations, and how modifiable risk factors vary between and within households and across generations.

This PhD aims to derive novel epidemiological perspectives on childhood obesity by undertaking analyses of electronic health and school records linked at household level for demographically contrasting populations in London and Wales.

The student will undertake a novel programme of work addressing a series of linked research questions, examining the demographic and health characteristics of adult and child household members of primary school-aged children participating in national child measurement programmes in London and Wales and how child obesity prevalence, risk factors, health, and educational outcomes vary by household characteristics, including by household demography, composition, and multimorbidity status.

The student will review existing literature on: the epidemiology of multimorbidity and child obesity at the household level, methods for classifying the health and demography of households; and statistical methods appropriate for examining clustering at household level. The student will develop, apply, and evaluate different analytic strategies using population-level linked electronic health records available for households in north east London and Wales. The supervisory team brings relevant expertise to support the student, including in epidemiological and life course analyses of childhood obesity and its outcomes, as well as spatial and statistical methods relevant to household-level research.

The objective of the child health obesity research group is to undertake research which identifies actionable opportunities for household-level interventions aimed at supporting children to maintain or regain a healthy weight status. A broader understanding of the mechanisms of interaction of household level risk with known individual risk factors for child obesity will be used to inform wider preventive interventions. The child obesity research group works closely with local authority based public health teams ensuring that actionable public health opportunities and research impact can be maximised.

Interviews will take place the week commencing 18th May 2020.

Funding Notes

This studentship will commence 1 October 2020, is open to UK or EU citizens only, and is fully funded for 36 months by Barts Charity. Funding includes university fees and a tax-free stipend per annum of £24,143. Applicants are required to have an honours degree in statistical or psychological sciences (minimum 2(i) or equivalent), a master’s degree in data science, and experience of carrying out research and analyses of electronic health data using R.

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